Patrick couldn’t believe that his friends were capable of making such a blunder.
They had watched this planet for hundreds of years and picked their destination carefully. The climate on the small island held enough moisture year round to keep their species comfortable. The cloud cover it routinely provided allowed their starships ample opportunities to sneak down to the surface to drop them off. Even the natural disposition of the people inhabiting the island seemed optimal for masking the discovery of one of their kind with a well-told folk tale. The sobriety of the witness could be called into question and it would live on forever in what everyone would believe to be nothing but a story.
Having chosen so carefully, it was shockingly disappointing to Patrick that when he notified his people it was time to meet, he discovered they had chosen to take the form of a non-native species. They had also sent more subjects to the surface than they had originally agreed upon.
Patrick had hoped to stand amongst a small flock of sheep or a gathering of swans and speak to them casually about the goings on of their home planet. Even a few dozen canines would have been acceptable. He knew it would be far more difficult, however, to explain to the townspeople why several thousand snakes were now slithering up the hillside to greet him.
“You fools!” exclaimed Patrick to what he could only assume was the expedition’s leader, as all of his people now looked identically reptilian. “What have you done?"
“We have come to meet you as previously agreed upon,” spoke the lead snake as he lifted his head from the grass. “What information have you, noble scout?”
“I can only inform you that you have picked the wrong species. This will not do.”
“But this is such a beautifully efficient form,” the lead snake explained, coiling around to observe himself. “No limbs to muck things up. Anything eaten goes straight in and goes straight out. No messy chewing. And the color. How can this deep green not assist in our blending in to this rich landscape? I’ll admit it’s a bit cold here, however. Perhaps a fur-covered beast would have served better in that regard.”
“No, no, no,” repeated Patrick as he paced about the hillside. “This will not do. We must separate for now and I will meet with one of you at another time to discuss your appearance. You will be noticed like this in such great numbers.”
“I should say so,” the leader said, proudly raising his head from the ground again. “It would seem that the locals all appreciate the beauty of this form as much as we do. They were coming out from their homes and staring at us in awe as we passed. Perhaps we misjudged how crude these humans are.”
Patrick looked over the large group of writhing green reptile forms and saw the townsfolk gathering at the foot of the hill. His heart sank. After all the research, all the years of work, everything was about to be undone.
“No,” he said again, then looked behind him toward the cliffs. “You must follow me. Now,” he commanded to the group and all at once they began slithering forward through the grass, higher up the hill, following Patrick’s lead.
Patrick produced the communicator from his billowed sleeve and spoke into it. “Immediate relocation protocol initiated, latitude fifty-two point one six five, longitude negative six point eight six seven. Hover fifty feet above sea level and prepare top hatch. Subjects will be coming from above.” A series of sounds came back, then a voice said, “Affirmative. Arrival in 5.4 minutes.”
He glanced over his shoulder as he scrambled up the hillside, the thousands of snakes obediently following behind him. The group of humans at the base of the hill had grown significantly in numbers since he first saw them. They had also apparently grown in curiosity because they had started advancing up the hill themselves.
“What on Graxicon are you up to?” the lead snake asked Patrick as they finally reached the top of the hill. It ended in a sudden cliff, plummeting down into the ocean.
Patrick didn’t bother answering, but peered over the side of the cliff. The craft had not arrived yet. He looked back at the crowd below. They were gaining ground. Patrick’s head spun. He tried to calculate how soon the townspeople would catch up to them and feared it would occur before the craft could position itself below them near the cliff. No folk tale could explain this.
“Paddy,” came a voice up the hill. “Is that you Paddy? What on Earth are you doin’ me boy? Did you see all those creatures?”
Time was running out. Patrick’s human form sweated beneath his robes. He was prepared to leap off the side of the cliff himself just to avoid having to face what was to come.
Suddenly, Patrick heard the whirring of the spacecraft below. It had arrived. He turned his gaze to his snake counterparts and shouted at the top of his lungs, “Be gone!” and pointed his walking stick off the edge of the cliff.
Knowing he was trustworthy and not the sort of Graxiconian to be trifled with, they blindly slithered off the side of the cliff, not doubting for a moment that Patrick had made arrangements for them to fall safely.
And fall safely they did, into the waiting top hatch of the Graxicon craft waiting below, hovering near the water. When the last of them had thrown themselves off the cliff, Patrick turned and hurriedly walked down the hill toward the crowd below. He wondered what would happen. As he reached them, they stared at him, wide-eyed.
“He got rid of them,” someone whispered.
“Aye, that he did,” said Seamus, the town’s mayor. “He sent them all off the cliff.” He then turned around to look at the crowd and continued, “Patrick drove all the snakes into the sea. There were ten thousand of them if there was one. He’s rid us of the evil scourge. He’s a hero, I say!”
The crowd erupted in cheers of joy. Patrick was hoisted up onto the shoulders of two of the larger men in the town and bounced about as they all pushed against one another for the chance to pat him on the back.
Patrick seized the opportunity while they were distracted. He reached quickly into his sleeve and pressed a button on his remote communicator. Behind their backs, the craft that had been waiting below shot into the air, leaving a hole in the clouds above. The sun shone through it and down onto Patrick as the crowd congratulated him, causing them all to gasp.
“'Tis a miracle,” they all agreed and carried him down into the town where a great feast was prepared in honor of Patrick whom had driven the snakes, snakes that nobody had ever seen in the country prior to that day, out of Ireland forever.